Survey: Most Health Clubs Lack Emergency Medical Equipment

Attorney General Spitzer today released a report indicating that two-thirds of health clubs across the state do not have emergency medical equipment required by law.

"Every moment counts to a person in cardiac arrest," Spitzer said. "Increasing compliance with this law will help save lives."

State law require all health clubs to have cardiopulonary resuscitation (CPR) equipment, including breathing masks and protective gloves. A more recent law, which took effect in the summer of 2005, requires large health clubs with more than 500 members to also have defibrillators and trained personnel.

To test compliance with the law, Spitzer’s office sent survey forms to more than 300 health clubs across the state. Of the 231 health clubs that responded to the survey, only 35 percent had CPR equipment available.

Spitzer said this compliance rate was clearly unacceptable and that his office is conducting immediate follow ups with health clubs.

While the survey found higher compliance with the law that requires large health clubs to have defibrillators (81 percent), the Attorney General said that full compliance was imperative.

He noted that more than 10 million Americans over age 55 belong to health clubs, and that this age group has a higher risk of heart problems. Studies have shown that many lives can be saved if CPR and defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED) are provided within four to six minutes after a person experiences cardiac arrest. Since it typically takes more than five minutes for emergency medical personnel to respond to a call placed to an emergency medical services system, having defibrillation equipment and trained personnel at health clubs will increase the survival rate of people who go into cardiac arrest at health clubs.

The Attorney General encourages all New Yorkers who are members of a health club or who are considering joining one to determine if the club they belong to or are considering joining is in compliance with laws designed to protect the safety of members.

For a copy of the report, visit the Attorney General’s web site here . It also may be obtained by calling the Attorney General’s office at (518) 474-7330.

The report was prepared by Assistant Attorney General Doris Morin of the Westchester Regional Office and Assistant Attorney General Alan Berkowitz of the Suffolk Regional Office.

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